Red Lettering

Stories will not be written easily. A story without a heart is dead, and the only place it will get a heart is from the author.

The Treatment of Henchmen

The Treatment of HenchmenDear Villains (etc., etc.,)

My name is Athelas Hale, the writer and president of The Association for Protection of Character’s Rights (AfPoCR). Recently it has come to my attention that some of you treat your henchmen (etc., etc.,) in less-than ideal ways. While it’s not the AfPoCR’s job to regulate what villains or heroes do, technically, some of us here at the association were concerned about the way you’ve been operating. While, of course, being villains (etc., etc.,) you most likely won’t even open this letter upon receiving it, I do hope that some of you will at least peek at this missive.

Among other behaviors that I’ve noticed, I’ve seen that you have a tendency to kill off your henchmen. Or—worse, some say—you throw them in the dungeon and lock them up for the rest of time. Now, some of you undoubtedly don’t do this, understanding that life isn’t to be wasted (in which case, why on earth are you reading this letter for villains?) but some of you have done it in the past, and will do it again. I could not help but noticed that the logic of this is lacking slightly. Please allow me to explain.

As a villain, you must have a certain amount of henchmen (etc., etc.,) to do things for you. Some of you may prefer to storm the castle alone, but most of you will most likely need a bit of backup. As the treatment of henchmen becomes more widely known across the worlds, less and less people are planning to be henchmen. Some decide to turn into farmers, or heroes—some even decide to become supervillains themselves. The supply is slowly running low, and every time you kill a clumsy minion, you make yet another spot in your army that has no one to fill it. While you might be able to replace him, the fatality of your wrath will not only strike fear into the hearts of your other henchmen; it will also slowly eat away at their loyalty until fear is the only thing tying them to you. While some may consider this to be a good thing, I have found that when faced with two things they fear—you and your enemy who you are riding off to battle—henchmen usually take the easiest, most logical road. They run away from both. While some of you can manage with only a few or no henchmen, if you’re honest most of you will know that you would be proverbial toast without your vast hordes of minions to back you up. Worse, your henchmen might not only fear you, but hate you enough to be willing to stab you in the back when you give them the first opportunity (e.g. the untimely fate of Saruman.)

As for locking your minions up forever, who can afford that? I know most of you surely can’t—the budget has been tight these days for everyone. You either feed them or you kill them, and we’ve been over killing them already. Not only will you be obliged to feed your locked up henchmen, another possibility is that your enemy will be locked up and stuck in the same dungeon. Your henchman, who is now looking for a chance to relieve you of the burden of your head, will be able to not only help them, but be helped by them.

One thing that henchmen have recently been complaining about is their reputation. You, as their overlord, should be looking out for their public image. Henchmen have found a joke circulating around the internet (I’m sorry if that hasn’t been discovered where you are. Even in places without internet, henchmen are picking these things up) about their inability to aim, about their lack of intelligence, about their inability to tell the sound of a rock from the sound of a person invading your fortress. Now, these henchmen try very hard—they really do. Most of your men come from poor families with little education and no place to go, so their inability to read has branded them as unintelligent, and no one ever taught them the basics of patrolling a castle or fighting a war. Unless you’ve created your own version of the orcs (a very clever move on Morgoth’s part), be aware that your henchmen will not only get restless with the continued mockery of the common people, but they’ll also be needing a proper education to do their best at serving you. Train their ears, teach them to read, and most definitely teach them how to properly aim with their weapon. Also, avoid making your henchmen have long shifts while watching important prisoners, as they may grow tired and fall asleep, thus giving your prisoner an easy escape. Please be aware that embarrassed henchmen may hold you responsible for their bad reputation, and may grow too eager to prove themselves. Such plans on the part of henchmen can backfire and damage your whole operation.

We all know that some of you can grow very frustrated with the actions of your henchmen. Yet few of you take the time to move among your henchmen, be there for them when they need you, listen to them when they speak, and pay attention to what they think. Henchmen are most often sentient creatures that need a good leader as much as any of us do. Be that good leader for your henchmen. Give them someone to look up to, someone to trust. Let them know that you, their leader, will always be there for them. Pay attention to the way they think so you’ll know whether to be the caring father of the charismatic captain. Always know if your henchmen are frightened or nervous, and know how to allay their fears. They’ll not only follow you—they’ll love you. They’ll die for you, and not out of fear that’s easily broken; out of a complete devotion to you. Be their family, and they will be yours. Be loyal, and they will be loyal to you. Understand them, and you’ll not only find yourself getting frustrated less, you’ll also be able to teach your henchmen how to best go about the things you want them to do.

Beware, also, of threatening the families of your henchmen. Certainly they love their mum and would do anything for her, but that not only makes them hate you just a little more every day, it also gives your enemies a way of winning their affections. Should your enemy decide to simply rescue the families of your henchmen, you will have just lost your entire army.

Since I’m sure you all have certain supervillain-like duties that need attending to, I shall have to end this letter at that. Please remember, though, all of you villains, evil-overlords, criminal leaders, usurpers, and all the rest of you—always remember that henchmen are worth taking good care of. If you would like to know more, simply go to the AfPoCR’s website (if you can find it; I’m afraid it’s unavailable in many worlds, including but not limited to: Earth, Narnia,* Anthropos,** Amara,*** and Rudiobus****) where you can find a link to purchase the newest guide, The Care and Keeping of Henchmen: A Guide for the Busy Supervillain.


Athelas Hale

(Writer and President of The Association for Protection of Character’s Rights. (AfPoCR))


*Narnia: From The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis. No copyright is intended and no right is claimed to these novels.

**Anthropos: From The Archives of Anthropos, by John White. No copyright is intended, and no claim is made to these novels.

***Amara: From The Dragon Keeper Chronicles, by Donita K. PaulNo copyright is intended, and no claim is made to these novels.

****Rudiobus: From The Tales of Goldstone Wood, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. No copyright is intended, and no claim is made to these novels.



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20 thoughts on “The Treatment of Henchmen

  1. Next time I weave a story I will send a copy of this to my villain. Cliques are really getting old.

  2. My villain, (who prefers to be called an antagonist,) was very grateful for your letter. She has come to these same conclusions, and hopes this will educate other villains.

    • I’m very glad to have found an antagonist who agrees with me, and apologize for referring to her as villain when she prefers antagonist. Thank you for commenting!

  3. Thank you for bringing up the henchmen issue!

    Also, it’s nice to hear a reference to Anthropos. I’m afraid that world gets little attention.

    • I’m glad you read and liked it!

      I agree. While Narnia never “clicked” for me, Anthropos was always to me what Narnia seems to be for everyone else. Now as I read it aloud to my little sisters, I’m falling in love all over again.

  4. Very good! Alas, if only more villains would read this article! Unfortunately, I feel that some are so so unstable, they have the need to hurt people, and heroes aren’t always on hand. As you so aptly pointed out, this leads to their downfall…sigh…will villains ever learn? (I hope not.)

    However, some good examples of villains treating their henchmen well (at least appearing to) can be found in Legend of Korra. Amon, rallying his forces with his sobstory and leading by example. Unalaq…okay, so he didn’t seem to be a great father, but his kids were loyal for quite a while until he started making those mistakes…Zaheer, whose elite team of friends are almost admirable…and Kuvira…who inspires her army with her impressive leadership skills (though I think her secret punishments are going to start backfiring)….

    Anyway, those are villains I’ve been impressed with!

    • The poor unstable villains… I am very thankful most of the time that he heroes aren’t really around often enough for that.

      I keep hearing the name, The Legend of Korra, but I’m still entirely unaware of what it actually is… Is it a television show, or books?

      • Television show! It’s the sequel series to Avatar: The Last Airbender, and it is FANTASTIC. Sadly, you can’t find it on TV much anymore, but if you have Amazon Prime, the first two season can be watched there for free! And the Nickoldeon site is airing the fourth season. I don’t know where you can watch the third season. But the third and fourth are definitely the best!!!

      • Um…no, I don’t think it’s on Netflix. Sadly, now I feel like I have to retract or at least cushion my recommendation with a warning. The literal last minute of the show decided to strongly suggest a romance between the two main female characters. So that was very disappointing for me…

  5. Haha, very true! 😀

  6. Ah, guilty of the locking up of henchmen. But my villains are a bit more intelligent and mindful of the public image. *gloats*

    I loved this post! 😀

  7. *grins* This post entertained me thoroughly from beginning to end. But it contains good points, too. I do so love the method of wrapping up writing advice in humor (Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians, anyone?), and this is both excellent advice and excellent humor. Good job, Athelas!

    • I’m very glad you enjoyed it! I think if someone asked me to sum up my goal for writing these articles, I would say something along the lines of, “My goal is to make people facepalm, snicker, and learn something all at the same time.” I don’t know what Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians is, but I’ll look it up now that you mention it…

      • Well, I’d say you succeed pretty often.

        YES, YES, YES, look it up! I didn’t read it for quite a while after first hearing about it because the title made me go, “What…?”. But it was completely worth reading. Hilarious adventure and brilliant writing advice.

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